Mesmerized and awestruck, I looked at the idol of Durga (Goddess of Power for the Hindus), decked up on a public platform, during the annual Indian festival of Dussehra. Hundreds of people are looking at the deity with folded hands. She looked like the ultimate symbol of empowerment having 10 hands, holding very effective weapons and confidently slaying the demon/s. Just then, somebody asked from behind, “ When is the ‘Visarjan’ (the act of drowning the idol of a God or Goddess after the festival)? Suddenly I was reminded that ironically behind the all-powerful demeanor of the deity lies the symbol of a fragile and helpless woman, who is only symbolically and temporarily deified as if to neutralize the guilt of rendering her powerless.
The challenges faced by women in our country are numerous. It begins with their fight for life inside the fetus and continues across their lives through their fight for equality, fight for opportunity & access, fight for economic independence and so on and so forth. Through this essay, I choose to ‘walk the talk’ by suggesting an actionable and sustainable solution to the numerous challenges faced by women in their families and in the society at large.
A SUSTAINABLE MODEL for WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Holistic empowerment of women will be a reality, when we empower them not just in their role as individuals but also in their critical role as workers and professionals. Their role as professionals will also be a key contributor to the economy and that will bring fundamental changes in the mindset of society and the government towards women.
Charity and clarity both begin at home. Hence, a supportive and nurturing family lays the main foundation for women empowerment. Like any robust physical structure needs a foundation and then a supportive scaffolding to stand the test of time, women empowerment too will need a supportive society besides the all-important foundation of the family as a social unit.
I am proposing the following Sustainable Women Empowerment Driver Model, which provides ample clarity to the factors impacting women empowerment in a complex nation like India.
Sustainable Women Empowerment Driver Model
Q3- Shake Off
Impact: The basic mindset of society towards women improves drastically.
Q4 – Take Off
Impact: Sustained empowerment prevails along with economically and socially valued women.
Q1 Break Out
Impact: Family needs to break out of the traditional stereotypes existing in their behavior towards women. This makes women feel supported and hence confident about their self worth as individuals.
Q2 Spread Out
Impact: Healthy economic cycle prevails as women are enabled to spread out their wings by entering the workforce and adding to their personal wellbeing. That will make them feel empowered as contributing units of their own families.
|Role of the Supporting
Role of Women
Women as Individuals
The above model shows how different forces help create and sustain empowerment among women.
The Core Premise
– Our country needs women to feel empowered in their role as individuals as well as working professionals.
– How women are treated by their own families decide how they are subsequently treated by the society.
The lower half of the proposed solution is the role of the family as a social unit towards women empowerment. This half exerts the much-needed pressure on the upper half i.e., ‘the role of society’ to change its mindset towards women and to later help empower them.
Role of Family (Q1&Q2):
Problems faced by women as individuals and as professionals start ironically within their families and gets extended to how society views and treats women.
Family must initially accept them as individuals by breaking the age-old stereotypes about the relative value of men v/s women as a gender. Families then need to support women as contributing working professionals to further enhance their self worth and value in society.
The actionable steps could start with inheritance laws, the symbolism of carrying the family surname, and equal opportunity among siblings etc. Such changes will break off the cast and set the stage for women to get educated and to spread the wings as not just consumers in the economy but as able producers too.
Role of Society (Q3&Q4:
A society like any external entity reacts to the socio-economic position of any gender. Hence, the economic freedom of women will change the mindset of society towards women as they gain more respect as primary consumers as well as contributors to the economy.
THE WAY FORWARD
– Our country needs to not just focus on women’s participation rather foster their power to influence.
– We all need to encourage ‘Humaniarchy’ over Patriarchy or Matriarchy.
– The policymakers need to shift their mindset from just Inclusion of women to women centricity.
– Last but not least, the narrative has to change from women being deified to women being accepted as edifices of creativity, equality, and vitality.
Indeed at this juncture, even small steps for women empowerment in the world’s most populous nation will be literally and figuratively a giant leap for humankind.
The writer Sanskriti Tripathy is a concerned global citizen and a student of Grade XII at The Shriram Aravali School. She is the Co-founder of www.newzworm.com, world’s 1st global news source for young citizens, currently read in 144 countries. She has also published ‘Earth Whispers’ a book of poems on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The writer can be reached at email@example.com
Note From Editor: This article by Sanskriti Tripathy, a 17 years young and conscientious citizen of India, attempts not only to address a huge unsolved socio-economic problem of our nation but also suggests an insightful, actionable and sustainable model as a solution. We sincerely hope the decision-makers at the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare are paying attention.